Map Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean


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Lesson 4.4: Mapping Mediterranean Movers and Shakers


Lesson 4.4: Mapping Mediterranean Movers and Shakers


Topic 2: Expansion, Exploration and Exploitation: Population Movements in the Age of Empires


Students will research a set of individuals whose life stories reflect themes of movement, imperial competition, trade, piracy, slavery, etc. and then create geo-biographies on an online map. Each working group of students will plot at least 4-5 events in the life/career of one individual on the map, analyzing the significance of the event and connecting it to larger historical currents.


Barbara Petzen


Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean: A World History Curriculum Project for Educators


Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies




2014, Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies, George Mason University, published under Creative Commons – Attribution-No Derivatives 3.0 License


One 45-50 minute class period, plus additional time for extension


• Students will be able to analyze nonfiction writing to extract important information.

• They will be able to analyze primary source documents and identify the point of view, goals, main arguments, and evidence used of the writers.

• They will be able to compare the positions and goals of the authors of different primary source documents on a single issue.

• They will be able to use technology effectively to demonstrate geographical and historical information.


• Student Handout 4.4.3: Mapping Mediterranean Movers and Shakers

• Google Earth (installed on computers)

• Computer and internet access for each student group

• Sample Google Earth tour at

Lesson Plan Text

1. Divide the class into nine groups, and distribute to each group the first page of Student Handout 4.4.3: Mapping Mediterranean Movers and Shakers as well as copies of one of the nine biographies provided.

2. If you have not used Google Earth in the classroom before, introduce it by projecting it in class. Start out by finding your school, and then zooming to the Mediterranean and identifying significant features there. Access a demonstration tour (such as, and then allow students in groups to work through the tutorial on how to annotate Google Earth and create a tour (

3. Now, have each group read the biography of the figure they have been given, and note down each specific place they can identify where that person lived or to which they traveled. (Some figures traveled a lot—students may want to choose 10-12 interesting places to showcase!) Have students use Google Earth to determine the latitude and longitude of each place.

4. Have groups create their tour by creating a waymark for each event or place in their figure’s life (You might ask each group to use a different color for their waymarks, so that in the final presentation each traveler stands out.). They should give each waymark an expressive title, enter the proper latitude and longitude, and write a sentence or two describing what happened in that person’s life in that place and what about the event or its context that is significant. They may add an image or a video to each waymark if they like, but should definitely use an image at least in the first waymark.

5. Make sure students create a tour by arranging the waymarks in chronological order, so that when you play your tour, they appear in the correct order. Have students save their tours as a .kmz file and send it to you. When all the tours your class has created are showcased together in Google Earth, project the Google Earth image. Ask students to identify patterns of movement they see across the Mediterranean. What places have the most “traffic?” Why might that be?

6. Adaptation: If internet access is not available, you may obtain a large-format map of the Mediterranean and surrounding areas. Give each group map tacks and Post-it notes in one color, and have them complete the same exercise by using the tacks and Post-its to track their traveler.

7. Extension: Have students each identify a new person to track across the Mediterranean. Create a short biography of someone else active in the Mediterranean world in the early modern period and map their biography in Google Earth as well (or trade biographies with a partner and map the lives of each other’s figures).

8. Alternative extension: Have each student group create a “Fakebook” page ( for their figure, incorporating the biography, the map they created, other visual and textual elements, and the resources they used. Assessment: Assess students’ participation in their groups. Assess student Google Earth tours for completeness (did students create at least 8-10 waymarks), appropriate use of technology, addition of visual or video elements, and correct geographical placement.



Barbara Petzen, “Lesson 4.4: Mapping Mediterranean Movers and Shakers,” Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean: Teaching Modules , accessed August 3, 2020,

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